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Trump civil suit to be decided in Northwest Florida

WMBB Panama City 3/27/2023 S. Brady Calhoun
Trump civil suit to be decided in Northwest Florida © Provided by WMBB Panama City Trump civil suit to be decided in Northwest Florida

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) - One of the lawsuits connected to former President Donald Trump will be hashed out in Northwest Florida.

Trump sued journalist Bob Woodward, Simon & Schuster Inc., and Paramount Global on January 30 over audio recordings Woodward made while interviewing Trump for a book. But while Trump lives in south Florida the case was filed in the Northern District of Florida, a region that runs across the state from Escambia County to Alachua County.

The district is one of the most reliable pro-Republican areas in the country.

“This case centers on Mr. Woodward's systematic usurpation, manipulation, and exploitation of audio of President Trump gathered in connection with a series of interviews conducted by Mr. Woodward,” wrote Robert Garson, Trump’s attorney in his complaint. “Said audio was protected material, subject to various limitations on use and distribution-as a matter of copyright, license, contract, basic principles of the publishing industry, and core values of fairness and consent.”

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He adds that while Trump consented to be interviewed for a book the former president did not consent to audio recordings of his interviews to be sold to the public.

“Specifically, (Simon & Schuster Inc.) and Woodward conspired to, and did, collate and cobble together more than eight hours of "raw" interviews with President Trump,” Garson wrote. “Without President Trump's permission, on October 25, 2022, Defendants released the recordings as an audiobook dubbed The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward's Twenty Interviews with President Donald Trump.”

Garson added that Woodward himself advertised the audio form of the book by using Trump’s unique vocal abilities.

"[h]earing Trump speak is a completely different experience to reading the transcripts or listening to snatches of interviews on television or the internet," Woodward said according to the filing.

He also called Trump’s voice "the most recognizable voice in the world, perhaps," the filing states.

“The Defendants proceeded with such publication knowing that President Trump's voice is one of the most recognizable voices in the world and hearing his words from his mouth or as directly articulated by him, is much more valuable and marketable than Woodward's interpretation of the interviews in Rage,” Garson wrote.

Garson added that Woodward cut out at least some portion of the audio recordings when releasing them to the public.

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“Far from being a "raw" and unedited recording, it seems that extreme license was taken with the responses provided by President Trump in which he has a copyright interest, and the answers were manipulated to alter President Trump's language as well as to support the particular narrative desired by Woodward, SSI, and Paramount,” Garson wrote.

Garson wrote that based on sales figures from a previous Woodward book Trump is owed about $49 million, not counting punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and costs.

Responses from the defendants in the case are due on April 3.

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